Dec 12 2023

Transforming Healthcare’s Physical Security with a Centralized Command Center

Health systems that want to evolve their physical security approach to keep up with current and emerging threats need to think holistically.

Healthcare workers, patients and visitors should be able to move around a hospital safely. Unfortunately, healthcare workers are facing a rise in workplace violence, including verbal harassment and active-shooter situations.

As healthcare organizations adjust their physical security strategies in response to the changing landscape, they should move toward a more holistic approach to security that would benefit immensely from a centralized command center. As care delivery becomes more encompassing of a patient’s well-being, an organization’s security approach should also become more integrated and provide visibility into all the parts that make it whole.

Scottsdale, Ariz.-based HonorHealth, for instance, has a network operations center that allows the security team to monitor the numerous cameras spread across facilities and deploy resources as soon as issues crop up. The next stage would be to incorporate more predictive analytics into the video surveillance system to better support security staff.

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“I think the general theme is to keep patients, staff and everybody involved safe,” Security Director Darren Viner told HealthTech. “The analytical part is to be able to identify patterns and respond to those patterns in a way that's useful. We're searching for what sort of software would be best suited for the surveillance systems we currently have in place.”

As healthcare organizations consider a more holistic approach to care delivery, they should also reimagine an approach to physical security that’s more centralized, integrated and well coordinated.

READ MORE: Why do physical security and cybersecurity work so well together?

Why Should Health Systems Consider a Centralized Command Center?

A healthcare organization with multiple facilities or a sprawling campus may have disparate security teams and localized data feeds for cameras. A unified system would offer a better overview and improve coordination and response to incidents. This is especially an issue for ambulatory locations that may not have 24/7 coverage.

With a centralized command center, healthcare organizations have better control and visibility and can improve cross-communication between campuses and buildings. A central team is also better positioned to connect with local authorities and emergency services as needed.

Such a centralized approach is especially useful for care coordination across an organization, especially as programs such as virtual nursing, virtual sitting and at-home acute care come into play. A clinical command center with real-time security capabilities would unify information and physical security efforts in one location.

Centralized command centers also help organizations better leverage their vast stores of data, supplementing overworked teams and improving alerts and detection. All layers of security can benefit from a centralized approach with improved response time, better overall safety and consolidated decision-making.

The growth of artificial intelligence–powered tools in healthcare works as both a threat to security and an opportunity to improve defenses and cover skill gaps. A central team can leverage AI to monitor data for tracking users and access that falls outside of an organization’s governance or baseline expectations.

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What’s the Next Step in the Command Center Implementation Process?

As care expands beyond hospital walls, healthcare organizations can improve their security posture in the short term through more consolidation and collaboration to drive policy enforcement. The care coordination process must be in sync with the security command center, from data protection to patient transportation.

Centralized command centers in healthcare will expand their current limited capabilities and service lines. Trusted partners — especially those with experience in the public sector that are used to a mission control–style approach to security — will understand the technology landscape better and be in a good position to help the command center grow. A strong partnership can address both the information and physical side of security and promote the flow of communication that should be part of any security program.

This article is part of HealthTech’s MonITor blog series.

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